Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How do you choose?

Puppies are the cutest things - no matter what breed. So how to do you choose? I am obviously partial to Labrador Retrievers, but I think all puppies are cute. Unfortunately (and fortunately) so do most people. The unfortunate part is that this extreme cuteness often leads people to bring puppies into their lives with no thought to the future and no true commitment to raising the puppies into adulthood. As a result, I think a word of caution is necessary before moving forward in this discussion.

Before anyone makes the decision to bring a dog (or any pet for that matter) into their household, I think it is important for every family member in a household to take a look at their future plans and ask several questions - Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Will you be moving around or are you in a more permanent position? If you have to move or your lifestyle changes, are you committed to taking your pet with you?

Once you've decided that it's the right decision to bring a dog into your life, how do you choose which one (or two, in my case)? This is the time to evaluate your lifestyle. What is your normal routine like? Do you like to exercise or are you more of a couch potato? Do you have a large living space? A fenced in backyard? How much time do you have to devote to your pet?

Different breeds have different characteristics, and it's important to do your research. Luckily there are many books and websites out there, like the American Kennel Club's Alphabetical Listing of AKC Recognized Breeds, to get you started. While this guide won't give you all of the answers (not even close), it will help you to become familiar with the general characteristics of different types of dogs to help you narrow down your search.

Once you have an idea of the type of dog you're looking for, shift your research to breeders and rescue organizations. Decide whether it is important for you to have a purebred dog or whether you'd rather adopt a mixed breed. Both are great and you have to make the best choice for you. If you're interested in getting a purebred dog from a reputable breeder, start by checking out Online Breeder Classifieds on the AKC website. Most people, however, do not intend to ever breed or show their dog, so having a dog that is registered with the AKC is probably unnecessary. If this is the case, I highly recommend that you check with your local humane society or other rescue organizations. There are so many sweet animals in shelters and rescue groups that deserve a good home.

Many of the dogs that are found by rescue groups are mixed breeds, but there are often a number of purebred dogs that have been surrendered by their owners. There are even rescue groups that are specific to certain breeds, such as the Atlanta Lab Rescue. If you're interested in a particular breed, be sure to check out the rescue groups in your area. Some may even have full litters of puppies to choose from if you're set on bringing home a baby. If you're not, I encourage you to consider adopting an older dog from a rescue group - many times they're already housebroken and unfortunately, they often get passed over by people looking for a puppy. Rescue groups like my local humane society, the HSJC, do amazing work to find deserving animals a forever home, and you can bet that my next four-legged family member will come from one of these groups.

So after all of that discussion on my part, I have to ask, how did you choose?


  1. Excellent post and thank you for addressing this issue! I don't think most people understand the huge commitment pets can be. Dogs, in particular, can require a tremendous amount of time and attention - and every single one deserves it! :)

    I found my Connie when I was looking for an adult dog through a shelter that frequently brings groups of dogs into our local Petsmart for adoption. She was around 5 years old and she just stole my heart. I filled out the paperwork and was approved! I was so sad when her foster mom told me no one else had expressed interest in her. She is such a kind soul.

    Caesar, on the other hand, came from a friend who actually rescued a whole litter of strays from a junkyard. She found homes for all but Caesar and his sister Parker, who she kept for herself. We decided Connie needed a baby brother and the rest is history... His puppyhood was a wild ride! Although we found out later that most of the mayhem actually had Connie behind it! lol

  2. After researching breeds like crazy and going back and forth, I ended up with my mystery mix rescue, Sophie. We didn't know how big she would get or how energetic or anything, but we were prepared for all scenarios with crates, a fenced-in yard, lots of time and attention to give her, toys, and a loving beagle brother.

    Looking back, I sort of felt like SHE chose ME, ya know? Sometimes things have a way of working out!

  3. Thank you both for sharing your stories! I love hearing about how you found your pups!


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